D. A. candidate/ Chief Deputy D.A. Jackie Lacey
Atty. General Kamala D. Harris
Lacey gained the highest number of votes in the primary for D.A. and if elected, she would become LA’s first Black female D.A. in history
California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris has thrown her support behind Jackie Lacey in the race to become Los Angeles County’s next district attorney.
The endorsement was announced earlier this week by the Lacey campaign, which in recent weeks has also touted support from the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs Assn. and the county’s Democratic Party. Lacey, the county’s Chief Deputy District Attorney, is facing Deputy Dist. Atty. Alan Jackson in the November runoff.
Harris’ backing means Lacey has the support of both major party nominees who squared off in the 2010 election for attorney general, when Democrat Harris narrowly defeated Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, a Republican and Lacey’s boss.
Harris made history by becoming the first woman and first Black candidate to win an election as the state’s top law enforcement officer. Lacey is similarly hoping to become the county’s first female and first Black District Attorney.
Her opponent also has rolled out several recent endorsements in the nonpartisan race. Jackson’s campaign says he has the backing of former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, the local Republican Party and more than 20 local police unions, including those representing Burbank and Glendale officers.
Two of the most contentious issues that will be facing the next D.A. are the death penalty and the governor’s order sending state prisoners to an already overcrowded jail system throughout the state.
In a previous interview, Lacey explained her position on the death penalty thus: “I think the biggest fear, morally, of the death penalty is that we do not want to execute the wrong person. I think we need checks and balances in place. Under my administration, (the DA’s) office would make absolutely sure the evidence points to the right person. One of the reforms we have to do is streamline the appeals process. It suffers from a lack of training for lawyers to handle those appeals. Although I’m a prosecutor who has been on the side of seeking justice by seeking the death penalty, I believe everybody has the right to a fair trial.”
And about the governor sending prisoners to the jail system, she said, “I believe at one point the prisons were at 230 percent their capacity, which is inhumane. What I disagree with is how quickly he thrust this responsibility onto the county. [AB 109] was passed in less than a day; I think it only took four or five hours. When we got the law, it took a team of lawyers a month to figure out what it was about. I also think if the governor was going to shift all of these people over here, where is the money? You can’t just give us the problems of the state without giving us the money. And the money has not arrived. The Governor is counting on you guys voting for the tax increase in November.”
The D.A.’s office of Los Angeles County is probably the largest county prosecutor’s office in the nation and in addition, it maintains a high profile, notwithstanding its actual closeness to the entertainment capital. Therefore, the next person to head the office has to be carefully vetted in every possible way, and have an impeccable record, in and out of the judicial and legal communities.
Last Tuesday evening, Lacey and Jackson squared off to a packed auditorium in downtown L.A. Lacey (who got 32 percent) and Jackson (who got 24 percent) spent most of the two hours trading barbs at each other’s records, and why – as each one put it – he/she would be the better D.A. for the county.
Presently, they both work for the same D.A., Steve Cooley, however, he has endorsed Lacey for his job. She has a good background as an administrator and years of courtroom experience. Jackson may have courtroom experience, but his administrative skills – something that is mandatory for the D.A.’s job – is an unknown factor at this point.
Lacey zoomed in on that during their exchange by describing him as being “naïve and ignorant of the politics of the D.A.’s office” that he is seeking to run. She also said that she resented his attitude: “To say that I am not familiar or that I am out of touch is ridiculous.”
The forum was hosted by Los Angeles County Organization of Police and Sheriffs (LACOPS), a decade-old coalition of city and county law enforcement organizations, and it was the first debate since the primary. It was moderated by Warren Olney of KCRW Radio. In addition, the public was invited, and allowed to ask questions of the candidates at the end of the debate.